The Roots at Carnegie Mellon University (free!)
I have seen some good free shows, but nothing will ever compare to this one. There were extended drum solos (Questlove’s sticks lit up!), extended un-boring jam sessions and of course, Tuba Gooding Jr.
Delicate Steve at Thunderbird Cafe
This one was so good that my friend and I went home and listened to his live album (Live in Las Vegas), which had the same exact setlist, immediately after. Also, Steve wore a Waldo hat.
Pixies at Carnegie Music Hall
My friends and I trekked through a hell of a snowstorm in an ill-equipped rental car to get to this one. We got in zero car crashes, sustained zero injuries and witnessed one of the best sets any of us had seen. (Having seen Pixies again in 2017, I can now underline just how good this 2014 show was.)
Blackalicious at Mr. Smalls
Blackalicious’ MC, Gift of Gab, is a big fella. He remained seated on a stool for much of the show, but stood up slowly during the “Alphabet Aerobics” encore, and you know what? It was riveting.
Deerhoof at Rex Theater
This one had all the earmarks fans come to expect from a Deerhoof show: Greg and Satomi switching instruments, a “Come See The Duck” singalong, Ed’s fabulous clothing. Fun bonus: the opener was future Ocean’s 8-er Awkwafina.